Have your say: Is this Holiday ad cute or offensive?

Most ads at Christmas are warm, loving story-telling moments that tug at your heart-strings. And along comes this ad from Joe Boxer and K-Mart which at first blush appears to be relatively cute and harmless.  It’s not that offensive, until of course, you link it to the sacred time of year:  Christmas.  



It sure stands out, and it has tremendous sharing capabilities with over 12 Million views on-line already.  But to show how polarizing this ad is, the Ad tracking shows it scores extremely high on attention, but very low on relevance.  It scored extremely high in the “dislike” category, however at the same time it scored very high on “likeable”.

This appears part of K-Mart’s shock value advertising they are using this year, following up on “Ship My Pants” ad below.


Brands really only have four choices:  better, different, cheaper or not around for very long. Both of these ads are cute ads, but neither really says why you would ever choose K-Mart.  Slide1I’m sure the ad industry likes them.  But you can get free shipping of lousy pants at many stores these days.  And Joe Boxer has pretty good distribution across most chains.

So aside from the shock value of these ads, is there really anything sustaining for K-Mart?  In Canada, there was a store called Zellers that used the same shock value style ads.  They just went bankrupt.

I’d mark this down as to a bad and confused creative brief, with a client more intent on seeing advertising as fun than effective. 

Have your say:  Will the new K-Mart ad drive more sales or not?

If you like this story…

If you’re in the holiday spirit, you might like to see how John Lewis of the UK has handled their Christmas ads the past 5 years.  They likely even jump out more than this K-Mart ad, while tugging traditionally at your heart strings.  New John Lewis Christmas ad

You might also enjoy reading about brands that are using consumer insight as the basis of their advertising.  So many Brand Leaders think your job is to represent the brand to the consumer.  What if you were to represent the consumer to the brand?   Would your work look different?  Click on this story to read more:   5 Great Ads Based on a Unique Consumer Insight

And if you want to know how to write a better creative brief, here’s a simple step by step process to help you.  Click on this story to read more:  How to write an Effective Creative Brief

To see a training presentation on getting Better Advertising

email-Logo copyABOUT BELOVED BRANDS INC.:  At Beloved Brands, we are only focused on making brands better and making brand leaders better.Our motivation is that we love knowing we were part of helping someone to unleash their full potential.  We promise to challenge you to Think Different.  gr bbi picWe believe the thinking that got you here, will not get you where you want to go.  Our President and Chief Marketing Officer, Graham Robertson is a brand leader at heart, who loves everything about brands.  He comes with 20 years of experience at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke, where he was always able to find and drive growth.  Graham has won numerous new product and advertising awards. Graham brings his experience to your table, strong on leadership and facilitation at very high levels and training of Brand Leaders around the world.  To reach out directly, email me at graham.robertson@beloved-brands.com or follow on Twitter @grayrobertson1

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Is K-Mart’s “Ship My Pants” a good Ad?

I have to confess, it’s a very cute ad.  It makes me giggle every time.  I’ve shown it to my teenage kids, I’ve posted it on Facebook and Twitter.  And I’ve watched it again and giggled more.  But is it a good ad?   And I guess the bigger question might be is it the right ad for K-Mart?

Here’s the ad:

Is it a Good Ad?

The test of a good ad that I use is the ABC’S of Advertising which is Attention, Branding Communication and Stickiness.  

  • Attention:  A+  This ad definitely captures attention with a high degree of humor.  It’s as funny as a Seinfeld episode.  And for those of us, like me, it has that sharing power set up perfectly for social media.
  • Branding:  C+  The ad doesn’t do that great of a job with the brand.  And right now, K-Mart is definitely at the Indifferent stage of the Brand Love Curve, so what it really needs is to help separate the brand from the pack.  Other than scoring for “this brand is funny”, this doesn’t really separate K-Mart out from the pack?   I’d likely give this a higher score if the brand was targeted to a younger audience or if it was in an edgier category, the joke would have been a perfect fit for (e.g.  EB Games or West 49)
  • Communication:  B+   If K-Mart’s only objective is to establish that it does shipping, then it would be A+, but because of the vast needs for the brand, I’m a bit surprised they can turn K-Mart around by offering free shipping.  This does nothing to separate the brand:  LL Bean can ship pants, but LL Bean has pants I want shipped.   The other weird part of the communication is that 90% of the visuals are IN the store yet the real big win is there’s an on-line play.  If it’s IN the store, most items in a mass merchandiser store are so small that you don’t need them shipped.   So I’m saying mixed.
  • Stickiness:  A  It certainly sticks and the amount of sharing and talk value it has generate helps. It may be polarizing to certain segments of the mass audience–some may be offended–so it may stick for the wrong reason with the wrong circumstances.

So overall, I’d rate the ad a solid B+ to A=.  Very funny Ad.  

But, is it the right Ad for K-Mart?

Let’s look at the K-Mart strategy through the lens of the 5 sources of connectivity that help connect the brand with consumers including the brand promise, the strategic choices you make, the brand’s ability to tell their story, the freshness of the product or service and the overall experience and impressions it leaves with you.


Brand Promise: The promise as stated is you can now get all the great stuff at K-Mart shipped right to your house.  Who is the target?   Based on the tone of the ad, you would think it’s such a younger audience, but does a younger audience shop at K-Mart.  I know there will be people say “well with this funny ad, maybe now kids will shop there?”   Really?   Is that how you think advertising works?  

Strategy:  I’m not quite getting the strategy here.  K-Mart is nearly bankrupt and has not had a true reason for being for  the last 40 years.  Brands are either different, better or cheaper.   Wal-Mart beats it on price, Target beats it on style.  

Story:  The is trying to deliver the brand promise, but the tone feels wrong.  As Ted Mathews, author of Brand: It Ain’t the Logo* (*It’s what people think of you.) said “The K-Mart ad is completely off-brand character.  It will alienate the last remaining 50+ customers they have.  This is what happens without a Brand Foundation.  

Innovation:  This is 2013.  E-Commerce isn’t really innovative is it?  The idea that I can order pants on-line and have them shipped to my house might have been innovative around 1997.   But nowadays, buying pants on-line doesn’t exactly say “Hey Everyone K-Mart is really innovative”.  

Experience:  If there was a brand death pool, K-Mart would be near the top of the list.  Every time I drive by one, only then am I reminded that they still exist.  And then I say “why?”.  As I watched this ad, my first reaction was “yeah, but they are still crappy pants that no one wants”.  It reminds me of the Woody Allen joke:  “this steak is awful and the portions are so small”.  Yes I can ship the pants, but quite frankly, I don’t want the pants.  

Using these 5 Connections, I would say that, other than a funny gag, the ad does nothing to connect consumers with the K-Mart Brand. 

Ship My Pants: Good Ad, Wrong Brand


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  1. How to Write a Creative Brief.  The creative brief really comes out of two sources, the brand positioning statement and the advertising strategy that should come from the brand plan.  To read how to write a Creative Brief, click on this hyperlink:  How to Write a Creative Brief
  2. How to Write a Brand Plan:  The positioning statement helps frame what the brand is all about.  However, the brand plan starts to make choices on how you’re going to make the most of that promise.  Follow this hyperlink to read more on writing a Brand Plan:  How to Write a Brand Plan
  3. Consumer Insights:  To get richer depth on the consumer, read the following story by clicking on the hyper link:  Everything Starts and Ends with the Consumer in Mind


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About Graham Robertson: The reason why I started Beloved Brands Inc. is to help brands realize their full potential value by generating more love for the brand.   I only do two things:  1) Make Brands Better or 2) Make Brand Leaders Better.  I have a reputation as someone who can find growth where others can’t, whether that’s on a turnaround, re-positioning, new launch or a sustaining high growth.  And I love to make Brand Leaders better by sharing my knowledge.  Im a marketer at heart, who loves everything about brands.  My background includes 20 years of CPG marketing at companies such as Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer Consumer, General Mills and Coke.  My promise to you is that I will get your brand and your team in a better position for future growth. Add me on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/in/grahamrobertson1 so we can stay connected.